“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Since I work from home and we aren’t very social people, I don’t get a lot of social interaction. So I was really surprised recently when I talked to an examiner at the USPTO. I had called him to ask about the status of a case. He asked me if I was on the East Coast and I responded that I was on Mountain time because I live in Utah. I guess he took that to mean I am conservative because he said that he lives in Colorado but it’s tough for him because they limited the gun laws so he can’t buy AR-15’s. He went on to say that he doesn’t like Denver because it doesn’t look like the United States.
I’ve been mulling over the conversation for a few weeks and I have three distinct thoughts.
1. Stop complaining about immigrants
This examiner kept complaining about immigrants. In addition to complaining that Denver is too diverse, he complained about how hard it is to work at the USPTO because he has to work with non-native speakers. He said he used to only understand 70% of what his boss says and now it’s up to 80% but he feels that it’s harming his ability to do quality work.
I found his comments to be outrageous. First off, I don’t understand why people complain about immigrants being in the United States. With the exception of Native Americans, the essence of America is that it was founded by immigrants. In the beginning it was people from Britain, France, Spain, etc. And now it’s people from Mexico, South America, India, etc. If you live in the U.S. you need to accept that it’s a diverse country. Sure, you can live in your little uniform pockets. Believe me, I know, I live in Utah. But the major cities are going to be diverse. That’s never going to change.
Second, he picked one of the worst places to work if he doesn’t like immigrants. I think 50% of the examiners I talk to were born outside the U.S. And for the most part, they’re reasonable people. This examiner is the worst person I’ve ever interacted with at the USPTO because he’s so intolerant.
The goal should be to embrace our differences and learn from them. One of the best things I’ve ever done is visit China. I never realized until that trip that a culture could be so different from mine. And that’s fantastic. I’ve been learning about Chinese culture and cooking, and it’s fascinating. Life is boring if you stay in the same place and only interact with people that look like you who share your same beliefs.
2. No one wants to hear about your take on guns
This examiner lectured me about how Colorado is passing the wrong kind of gun laws and limiting his ability to buy the guns that he wants to buy. Even if I was pro-gun, this discussion would have been uncomfortable because of his fervor surrounding gun rights. Don’t discuss guns at work. No one is going to change my stance; no one is going to change your stance.
3. Don’t talk politics when you’re in a position of power
I really want this examiner to allow the case he’s examining. That means I’m not in a position where I can be blunt and tell the examiner he was being inappropriate. And he should know that. It was very telling that this examiner said at the end of our conversation, “I hope I didn’t say anything that was too politically incorrect.” That is a person who knows that everything he said was politically incorrect. This examiner was probably lonely since he works from home and quite possibly has few friends given that they would have to be pro-gun white males to satisfy his requirements, but that’s no excuse. Maybe he should welcome some diversity in his life just so he can have someone to talk to.